The day the disco died | VailDaily.com

The day the disco died

Wren Wertin
Wren WertinDennis Mac has an extensive CD collection, part of which he's standing before. He believes in diversity - and disco.
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Monday afternoon, after DJ Dennis Mac chose four Bee Gees songs for his “Four at 4” spot (four songs unified in theme), he received an on-air call from his boss, Steve Wodlinger (that’s Safety Steve to his employees). He was suspended from the station – without pay – by the end of the call.

It seems the folks at KTUN take their classic rock format extremely seriously, and there’s just no room for disco. Dennis chose the Bee Gees as a tribute to Maurice Gibbs, the “quiet Bee Gee” who died last weekend.

“The Bee Gees – love them or hate them – are a staple of the whole ’70s,” said Dennis. “But apparently it was a little too far out of format. As far as I’m concerned, what I was doing wasn’t out of line. What (Safety Steve) did was.”

And now it’s become a community issue. Everybody seems to have an opinion. According to Kerry Gray of the morning show Kerry and Company, the studio has been flooded with responses. There are people who are complaining, and people who are in full support. Never one to pussyfoot around, Kerry has several opinions on the matter.

“It was a flagrant misuse of the product,” he said. “He held the radio station hostage with disco. I guess he’s got a history of insubordination. There is now a “Free Dennis’ campaign, they’re calling, they’re threatening, sponsors have vocalized their concern…”

Dennis had a run-in with company brass years ago when he promised gullible listeners on April Fool’s Day they could ski for free at Vail if they said at the ticket window, “Dennis said I could ski for free.” Summit County residents who made the trek over Vail Pass were less than pleased when the people at the ticket windows had no idea what they were talking about. He’s also been chastised in the past for not staying within the set format.

“I think a little variety is OK,” said Dennis. “People can deal with it.”

“Hey, we’re a restaurant,” explained Kerry. “People come to us for entrees, and Dennis threw down a plate of quiche in the middle of chicken wings. Diana’s a big fan of karaoke. If Dennis gets to play the Bee Gees, what’s to stop Diana from singing along with every song she plays?”

“Maybe people are getting brainwashed on the chicken wings and a little something different on the dinner table will do them good,” countered Dennis. “Not only listeners, but management, too. I think they need to re-evaluate what their interpretation of music is.”

He’s a self-professed man with a musical mission, which might kill his career. Instead of talking on the air he’s spent the past couple of days cleaning his room and catching up on his rest. Other than a paycheck, he says he mostly misses all the hot women he works with at the station. On the up side, his house is very, very clean as he sits through the waiting game.

Kerry is used to being in trouble, as his on-air stunts often cross the line of good taste. But he’s never been suspended. What’s his advice to Dennis?

“I would probably kiss ass, lock the Bee Gees up and play the hits,” he said. “And look for another job.”

If you have an opinion about Dennis Mac’s plight, call the radio station at 949-0140.

The on-air altercation between station manager Steve Wodlinger and DJ Dennis Mac:

DM: Hello, you’re on the air

SW: I’m here. Hey Dennis, Safety Steve here, your boss. I can’t believe you just played four Bee Gees songs. This is a classic rock station.

DM: Well, you know, Maurice Gibb passed away, one of the Bee Gees –

SW: Well I understand that, but in honor of him you ought to go home and play four songs to yourself. You just trashed the format. I can’t even believe that. What’s gotten into you? You’ve taken over the radio station with disco. Maybe you want to change it or what?

DM: No, I just, I thought since he died, I thought we’d play something other than classic rock.

SW: You thought too much, I think that’s the problem.

DM: I just thought people might like it, you know, something different than classic rock for a change.

SW: Does that mean when Rachmaninoff comes back to life you’re going to play a four-set of Rachmaninoff? What are you doing?

DM: Well it’s different, because, you know, it’s kind of classic rock. I mean, you know, I polled the voters, I polled the listeners, and they said it was alright.

SW: Dennis, I’ve got to tell you, it’s unconscionable, I can’t deal with it, this was definitely the last straw. You are suspended, get out of the radio station –

DM: Why?

SW: – get out of here now, you’ve basically –

DM: No! I asked the listeners what they wanted, they said it was ok!

SW: You’ve taken a right turn and you’re way out of the format. You need to …

DM: What, it’s like classic disco. I mean so what, it’s music that people like. And I asked them –

SW: I know, but you know what? You asked all your plants to call you to tell you that that’s what you wanted to play on your next DJ show. So you know what? You’re suspended. Get out of the studio.

DM: Fine. Screw you.

SW: Have someone else take over. This is unacceptable.

DM: Screw you, Steve. I’m out of here.

SW: Alright.

(A loud slam)

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.




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